A global view of Earth Hour
The world turned off its lights on March 26 for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time as a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change.
I was given the assignment to not only photograph the event from Taipei, Taiwan, but to produce a multimedia video that showcased the world’s landmarks without lights as part of the fifth annual Earth Hour.
The Reuters online team in Toronto and I had decided to produce a video to illustrate the event with pictures by our photographers around the world. The idea was to fade before pictures with the lights turned on into the exact same image without the lights on.
The most challenging part of this was coordinating with the chief photographers around the world to advise their staff photographers of exactly what I needed in the pictures to make the transitions in the video seamless.
These were the instructions given out to everyone:
- No Verticals. It’s hard to fit a vertical photograph into a video production. You often have to crop it into a horizontal or have large spaces of black on the two sides.
- All images should be shot from a tripod – fixed points must line up exactly. This was to ensure that when a cross fade was applied to both pictures, it would be 100% smooth and accurate.
- Both pictures should be exactly the same size so if you crop, set the dimensions to the same height and width. This was to help with my pre-production so that I did not have to photoshop hundreds of before/after pictures to the same pixel size.
- Think about how to show the greatest contrast between lights on and lights off. I advised photographers to shoot on the same exposure settings on manual mode for both before/after. If they were shooting on Program, Shutter or Aperture priority for the after shot, the camera would meter expose for the darkness and make the after shot still look bright. The idea of cross fading from light to darkness would then be defeated.
The production of the video was a breeze and it took no longer than 3 hours for me to complete the piece which was featured on Reuters.com.
I feel there is added poignancy to this production because of Japan’s nuclear disaster, which raises doubts about nuclear power as a possible solution to the world’s energy needs. The Earth Hour global effort was a show of support for renewable energy and some promoting sustainable energy have seen nuclear power as the answer. The March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, sending radioactive material into the atmosphere, have made many think twice.
I send all my best wishes to Japan and hope that the victims will recover soon. I also wish that the world will find a balance between seeking renewable energy to save the climate and preventing disasters like the one in Japan.